T H U R S D A Y   September 30, 2010
David Poole

Theme: Bird Puns — Bird puns!

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Bird bonnet? (ROBIN HOOD).
  • 24A: Bird boo-boo? (CARDINAL SIN).
  • 34A: Bird brain? (CHICKEN NOODLE).
  • 50A: Bird backpackers? (EAGLE SCOUTS).
  • 56A: Bird bottoms? (KITE TAILS).
Before we get started, can I please get a big round of applause for SethG? I really appreciate it when he steps in for me at the last minute like that and you all probably enjoy the break from my inanity. Speaking of inanity — or is it insanity? — this J-O-B thing is rough! Yesterday was my first day and I had to be up, showered, dressed (up), and ready to head out the door at 7:30am. It's been a long time is all I'm saying. Then last night I went to PuzzleSon's Back to School Night which lasted from SEVEN until NINE. I could barely keep my eyes open driving home. But the job is going well (thank you all for the good wishes!) and the ol' bank account is going to be ecstatic in a couple weeks, so it's all good!

Today's puzzle is solidly in the "okay" category. I really like the theme and especially like the clue for CHICKEN NOODLE. Kinda wish the other theme clues could have been actual phrases but that's easy for me to say since I wasn't the one actually writing the clues. The fill had a couple sparkles with CHESHIRE and HEINIE (!) (34D: Wonderland cat / 9D: Bum), but clunked pretty heavily in a couple sports like OIL COLOR and RESNAP (38D: Artist's choice / 2D: Close again, as a change purse). I was at a complete loss at the cross of NANA (19D: Zola novel) and LINA (22A: Director Wertmüller). Never heard of LINA and would like to say I've never heard of NANA, but that's not exactly true. I've heard of it but, unfortunately, it didn't actually take up residence in my memory. Sigh.

  • 10A: "Once I had ... love and it was __": Blondie lyric (A GAS). This clue is a fun twist on some tired crosswordese.
  • 20A: Shows scorn (SNEERS). Much better than "sneery"!
  • 39A: Author Silverstein (SHEL). I've said it before and I'll say it again. Do Not get me started on "The Giving Tree."
  • 40A: First first name in Olympic gymnastic tens (NADIA). Nadia Comaneci. I remember being completely amazed by her. Man that was a long time ago. (1976!)
  • 45A: 1,000 G's (MIL). And again with the G = 1,000 thing. Did y'all get it this time? It's easier when it's just a G and not the letter spelled out (gee).
  • 46A: Free TV ad (PSA). Here's a good one I saw just the other day.

  • 59A: "Tootsie" Oscar winner (LANGE). Have you seen her in "Frances"? One of the top three most depressing movies of all time. (The others would be "Leaving Las Vegas" and, I don't know, I can't think of a third one right now because my brain is fried.)
  • 63A: Something to take lying down (REST). Sounds like heaven.
  • 12D: Traditional song with the line "Je te plumerai" (ALOUETTE). I can't think of this song without hearing "Ginger Grant" singing it on "Gilligan's Island."
  • 31D: Miss's equal? (MILE). What's the saying? "A miss is as good as a mile"? Right. What's it mean again? Hmm. Oh, I got it. If you just barely miss something it's not really any better than missing it by a mile because you still missed it. Something like that.
Crosswordese 101:There are generally three ways of cluing ENT. First, as a suffix (e.g., "Suffix with string" or "Suffix with differ"). Second, as an abbreviation for Ear Nose & Throat (e.g., "Sinus specialist, briefly," "Tonsilitis MD," or simply "MD's specialty"). And finally, there is the dreaded tree-creature. I don't know if the tree-creature is actually dreaded, but it sure sounds like it should be. Clues for this ENT will generally include a reference to J.R.R. Tolkien (like today's 57D: Tolkien's Treebeard is one). Other words to look for include "middle-earth" and "Fangorn Forest."

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 23A: Hound over a debt (DUN).
  • 54A: Morlock haters (ELOI).
  • 60A: Ireland, to poets (ERIN).
  • 10D: Oberhausen "Oh!" ("ACH!").
  • 19D: Zola novel (NANA).
  • 42D: Depilatory brand (NEET).
  • 48D: Autumn blooms (ASTERS).
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Everything Else — 1A: Bouillabaisse base (BROTH); 6A: "Coffee Cantata" composer (BACH); 14A: So out it's in (RETRO); 15A: In unison, musically (A DUE); 16A: Caffeine source (COLA); 17A: One of Israel's 12 tribes (ASHER); 26A: Ruby of "A Raisin in the Sun" (DEE); 27A: Favorable times, as for pics (OPS); 28A: Marshland (FEN); 29A: Afternoon services (TEASETS); 31A: Mazda MX-5, familiarly (MIATA); 33A: Granola grains (OATS); 41A: Cardinal Cooke (TERENCE); 49A: Suffix with expert (-ISE); 53A: Cubs, on scoreboards (CHI); 55A: Clawed (TORE AT); 61A: Cuba, to Castro (ISLA); 62A: Polecat relative (OTTER); 64A: It helps you get up (STEP); 65A: Orchestra section (REEDS); 1D: 1997 Depp title role (BRASCO); 3D: Unlisted ones (OTHERS); 4D: Cornered, in a way (TREED); 5D: Frightful (HORRIFIC); 6D: Milky Way, e.g. (BAR); 7D: "Be __": "Help me out" (A DOLL); 8D: Georges Braque, for one (CUBIST); 11D: Considerable amount (GOOD DEAL); 13D: Blue state (SADNESS); 21D: Furtive type (SNEAK); 25D: Get in the game (ANTE); 30D: 16-Across, e.g. (SODA); 32D: Landers with advice (ANN); 35D: Finder's cry (HERE IT IS); 36D: Title (NAME); 37D: Keats or Shelley (ODIST); 39D: Price that's rarely paid (STICKER); 43D: French city near a Chunnel terminus (CALAIS); 44D: Diva, stereotypically (EGOIST); 46D: Mambo bandleader Tito (PUENTE); 47D: Faked, as a fight (STAGED); 51D: Former French textile city (LILLE); 52D: Use the soapbox (ORATE); 58D: Doofus (SAP).


W E D N E S D A Y   September 29, 2010
Dan Naddor

Theme: An increase in the number of outstanding shares of a corporation without changing the shareholders' equity — Theme answers are two word phrases that split the word "stock", either as STO__ ___CK or as ST___ __OCK.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Hurricane Zone (STORM TRACK).
  • 20A: Unflappable (STEADY AS A ROCK).
  • 33A: "Time out!" (STOP THE CLOCK).
  • 42A: Dismay at the dealer (STICKER SHOCK).
  • 56A: Sprinter's device (STARTING BLOCK).
  • 60A: Sign of corporate success, and a literal hint to the puzzle theme found in 18-, 20-, 33-, 42- and 56-Across (STOCK SPLIT).
PuzzleGirl has been called away again today. You remember that Women's Masters Wrestling Tournament all-star team she was on? Well, the tournament wasn't aired live. But the tape-delayed broadcast/highlights show will be on today, so she's got local news interviews all morning. (You might be able to find the tournament on cable, especially if you get a package with a lot of channels.) She asked me to fill in. I'm SethG.

We get Dan Naddor today, another of what must be a rapidly dwindling pile on Rich's desk. And it's typical Naddor with (mostly) solid fill and high theme density. Six entries is a lot, and not many constructors can get away with stacking them. Theme entries are all solid, though the STO---OCK form of STOP THE CLOCK is all that stands between me and a complaint that only one entry (STORM TRACK) did not end with OCK after the split...

  • 5A: Floater with a ladder (RAFT). Yes, this is accurate.
  • 17A: Ringing sound (DONG). DONG is a ringing sound when CHUB is a 44D: Thick-bodied fish.
  • 24A: ___ in November (NAS). If PuzzleGirl were here, this would be a video fer sher.
  • 40A: "M*A*S*H" role (RADAR). If PuzzleGirl were here, this would be a picture fer sher.
  • 3D: Some Musée d'Orsay works (MANETS). M_NETS, wait for the cross.
  • 11D: Writer Dinesen (ISAK). Of Out of Africa and Babette's Feast fame.
  • 30D: Mardi Gras city's Amtrak code (NOL). That's a long way to go to avoid the former President of the Khmer Republic, Lon Nol.
  • 33D: Wallop (SOCK). While the theme is STOCK SPLIT, it's also necessarily a SOCK split. Darn.
  • 35D: "That's a riot—not" (HA-HA).

  • 43D: Negotiated white water, perhaps (KAYAKED). Also [Negotiated calm waters, perhaps].
  • 47D: One vis-à-vis two (SOONER). On a number line, or a clock which is not stopped. Compare with 58D: Prime-time time (NINE).
  • 48D: Oregon State's conf. (PAC TEN) will become the PAC-12 when Utah and Colorado join soon. Constructors, start working it out of your systems now, because the cluing's generally awkward enough without a "Bygone" indicator.
  • 57D: Freq. test giver (TCHR). Where to begin? This is awful, maybe the worst abbreviation I've seen. It's in a dictionary, so it's accurate, but that just makes me question the dictionary. If you Google TCHR you don't get the NEA, you get the Tamil Centre for Human Rights. The second entry? Is in Polish (though I'm proud I picked that up by just looking at the language). Next up? Texas Commission on Human Rights.

    In college I used a kind of shorthand, generally taking notes with no vowels. I'm glad I wasn't an Education major, because I think I would not have been able to bring myself to write this.
Crosswordese 101: Did they not get to TKO yet? It's not on the list. A TKO is when the ref stops the fight because one of the fighters can't go on. The clue will reference boxing, either a fight, some specific boxers, a three-letter-acronym with a B in the middle, or today's 32D: Bout stopper, for short.

PuzzleGirl's back tomorrow.
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T U E S D A Y   September 28, 2010
Mark Bickham

Theme: And Now a Word from Our Sponsors — Theme answers are familiar phrases that begin with synonyms for "advertisement."

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Promo after promo after promo? (AD INFINITUM).
  • 35A: Thesis on promos? (COMMERCIAL PAPER).
  • 52A: One who takes a promo off the air? (SPOT REMOVER).
I start a brand new job today so this is going to be quick. First time I've worked full-time outside the home since December 2003. Should be interesting!

This puzzle was … a Tuesday puzzle. I mean, really. There's just not a lot to say about Tuesdays! The theme is cute but pretty thin (only three theme answers and no reveal), there's quite a bit of crosswordese, and the cluing is straightforward. Not all Tuesdays are as Scrabbly as this one is, and there are a couple cool words in the grid — ERSATZ, JOVE, LOOSE END — so overall, above average.

  • 15A: Sport with mallets (POLO). Because "croquet" wouldn't fit.
  • 16A: Like Andean pyramids (INCAN). Someday I will sit down and make myself learn the difference between the Incas and the Mayas. I know it must be simple, but I've just never taken the time.
  • 48A: Keebler cookiemaker (ELF). It kind of cracks me up that this is stated as if it's true.
  • 50A: Part of D.A.: Abbr. (ATT.). District ATTorney.
  • 59A: Little laugh (TE-HEE). As I was typing this, I heard PuzzleSon remarking to PuzzleDaughter (sarcastically) "Tee Hee Hee." True story.
  • 64A: "Winning __ everything" (ISN'T). It's the only thing! Second place is first loser! (Of course I'm kidding.)
  • 2D: Scream bloody __ (MURDER). This is a great clue/answer combo.
  • 3D: Voodoo and wizardry (MAGICS). On the other hand, this one is pretty bad. Plural MAGICS? Yuck.
  • 21D: Darth, to Luke (FATHER). Spoiler alert!
  • 31D: Banking giant (CHASE). I really wish there was no such thing as a banking giant.
Crosswordese 101: Amy chatted with us about EMS back in August of last year, but she didn't cover today's clue, 47A: Printers' widths. Whenever you see this clue, you know the answer will either be EMS or ENS, but you have to check the cross to know which one. It's a little more likely to be EMS but not enough that you should throw the M in there and feel like you're done. (By the way, these terms are used most often to refer to typographical dashes. If you're interested — and why wouldn't you be?! — you can read all about it here.)

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 23A: Ike's WWII arena (ETO).
  • 24A: Gumshoe (TEC).
  • 26A: Old Olds creation (REO).
  • 43A: Black Sea port (ODESSA).
  • 49A: "__ Beso": Paul Anka hit (ESO).
  • 61A: Aggressive Greek god (ARES).
  • 4D: Yemeni port (ADEN).
  • 7D: Jai __ (ALAI).
  • 48D: Museum Folkwang city (ESSEN).
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Everything Else — 1A: Jane Austen classic (EMMA); 5A: Lose it (SNAP); 9A: Marathoner's pants? (GASPS); 14A: Campus area (QUAD); 17A: More than suggest (URGE); 18A: Loud laugh (ROAR); 19A: Swordsman of lore (ZORRO); 25A: Chowed down (ATE); 27A: Bon mot expert (WIT); 28A: Artificial (ERSATZ); 30A: Put into words (SAY); 31A: Fourth century start (CCCI); 32A: Well-endowed, so to speak (CHESTY); 34A: Oil-yielding rock (SHALE); 39A: "Doe, __ ...": song lyric (A DEER); 40A: Metallic mixtures (ALLOYS); 41A: __ and turn (TOSS); 42A: Astern (AFT); 51A: Portuguese king (REI); 55A: Forest bucks (STAGS); 57A: __ Star State (LONE); 58A: "By __!" (JOVE); 60A: Knock off (DO IN); 62A: Sci-fi writer __ Scott Card (ORSON); 63A: Snow coaster (SLED); 1D: Put "=" between (EQUATE); 5D: Wine-and-soda drink (SPRITZER); 6D: Nary a soul (NO ONE); 8D: Actor's job (PORTRAYAL); 9D: Thingamajig (GIZMO); 10D: "Wheel of Fortune" purchase (AN O); 11D: Twist-off top (SCREW CAP); 12D: Word with board or physics (PARTICLE); 13D: More stuck-up (SNOOTIER); 22D: One-eighty (UEY); 29D: High points (ACMES); 30D: Long-legged bird (STILT); 33D: Building repair platforms (SCAFFOLDS); 34D: World of espionage (SPYDOM); 35D: Waits on hand and foot (CATERS TO); 36D: Dashboard gauge (ODOMETER); 37D: Saviors (MESSIAHS); 38D: Detail to tie up (LOOSE END); 42D: Matterhorn or Monte Leone (ALP); 44D: Really enjoys (SAVORS); 45D: Director Spielberg (STEVEN); 46D: Motionless (AT REST); 49D: "Sesame Street" regular (ERNIE); 53D: Saw or plane (TOOL); 54D: City east of Santa Barbara (OJAI); 56D: Political beginning? (GEO-).


M O N D A Y   September 27, 2010
Betty Keller

Theme: The Three Little Pigs — Theme answers evoke the "Big Bad Wolf."

Theme answers:
  • 17A: High rollers (BIG SPENDERS).
  • 29A: "Do as I say, not as I do" speakers (BAD EXAMPLES).
  • 45A: Shrill "compliment" to a pretty woman (WOLF WHISTLE).
  • 61A: Catch your breath, or what the subject of this puzzle (found at the start of 17-, 29- and 45-Across) does (HUFF AND PUFF).
  • 39A: Like the house this puzzle's subject couldn't destroy (BRICK).
  • 26D: Like a house destroyed by this puzzle's subject (STRAW).
Really nice theme today. Awesome that Betty could work the "extra" theme answers into the puzzle. Nothing particularly flashy about the grid — except maybe TERRARIA (56A: Pet lizards' homes) — but we're not looking for flash on Mondays, so that's perfectly okay. I was only tripped up by LAP ROBE (5D: Carriage passenger's warmer) — that's a thing? — and LORN (48D: Forsaken) — that's a word? Other than that, smooth sailing.

  • 1A: Sign up (ENROL). I really don't care for the one-L ENROL, but I've resigned myself to it. You probably should too.
  • 50A: One, to Beethoven (EINS). I did notice a little German mini-theme going here. See also 60A: German conjunction (UND) and 39D: German road (BAHN).
  • 66A: Nightmare loc. of film (ELM ST.). I like the way this looks in the grid. I was filling it in through crosses and it looked totally wrong until I read the clue.
  • 2D: File target (NAIL). When I'm done here I think I'm going to go pay someone to target my NAILs.
  • 8D: Boater's pronoun (SHE). I've never understood this.
  • 30D: Idle and Clapton (ERICS). Put my iPod on shuffle yesterday and the first song that came up was this:

  • 31D: Actress Palmer (LILLI). I feel like I should know who this is.
Crosswordese 101: ELHI, a short form of "ELementary-HIgh school" is used primarily in the publishing business to describe books and software published for that age range. The majority of clues for ELHI will include "K-12" (like today's 41A: K-12 sch. years). Other words to look for in ELHI clues are "education" and "pre-college." If K-12 doesn't appear in the clue, there will be some other indication that the answer is an abbreviation/short form.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 24A: Morales of "Jericho" (ESAI).
  • 36A: Stimpy's partner (REN).
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Everything Else — 6A: "My Cousin Vinny" star Joe (PESCI); 11A: Cooperstown shrine: Abbr. (HOF); 14A: First lady before Michelle (LAURA); 15A: Revolutionary Allen (ETHAN); 16A: Tic-tac-toe loser (OXO); 19A: Pin for hanging (PEG); 20A: Election losers (ALSO-RANS); 21A: Observing (EYING); 23A: Musical scale unit (NOTE); 26A: Duped person (SAP); 34A: Deal in stocks (TRADE); 37A: Actor Brad (PITT); 38A: Thinker Descartes (RENÉ); 42A: On a cruise (ASEA); 43A: "The View" network (ABC); 44A: Dig discovery (RELIC); 49A: "How revolting!" ("ICK!"); 51A: Den or parlor (ROOM); 53A: One in a multiple birth (QUINT); 64A: Swearing-in words (I DO); 65A: Motionless (INERT); 67A: D.C. deal-maker (POL); 68A: Like a catching-up letter (NEWSY); 69A: Some towed vehicles, briefly (REPOS); 1D: Napoleon's exile isle (ELBA); 3D: Carpets (RUGS); 4D: Director Welles (ORSON); 6D: Confined, as pigs (PENNED); 7D: Approx. takeoff hrs. (ETD'S); 9D: Automobile (CAR); 10D: Crotch-to-ankle pants measure (INSEAM); 11D: Native Arizonans (HOPI); 12D: Plow pullers (OXEN); 13D: Verne's circumnavigator Phineas (FOGG); 18D: "I could __ horse!" (EAT A); 22D: "Yahoo!" ("YIPPEE!"); 24D: Biz VIP (EXEC); 25D: Went down like a stone (SANK); 27D: "Am not!" retort ("ARE SO!"); 28D: Group of judges (PANEL); 32D: Code of conduct (ETHIC); 33D: See 26-Down clue (STICK); 35D: Overwhelm with noise (DEAFEN); 40D: MLB scoring stats (RBI'S); 44D: Stock up again (REORDER); 46D: Live __ one's means (WITHIN); 47D: The "T" in NATO (TREATY); 52D: Source of Canada's symbolic leaf (MAPLE); 53D: Comical comment (QUIP); 54D: Cancel (UNDO); 55D: Fan club favorite (IDOL); 56D: Swaps between accts. (TFRS.); 57D: Type of roast (RUMP); 58D: In that event (IF SO); 59D: P.M. periods (AFTS.); 62D: A, to Berlioz (UNE); 63D: Not many (FEW).


S U N D A Y   September 26, 2010
Merl Reagle (calendar)

Theme: "Totally Q-less" Theme answers are familiar phrases with a QU sound changed to a W sound.

[Note: This is the puzzle that appears in the Sunday L.A. Times newspaper. If you don't get the paper, you can find the puzzle here. Scroll down to see today's syndicated puzzle.]

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Publicity photo from the film "Tombstone"? (WYATT ON THE SET).
  • 50A/82A: One way to describe a home run derby? (HERE A WHACK THERE A WHACK / EVERYWHERE A WHACK WHACK).
  • 65A: Warning on a Tim the Tool Man drill? (SOME ASSEMBLY REWIRED).
  • 97A: Reacting to your first jog in 10 years? (FEELING A LITTLE WHEEZY).
  • 112A: What they called Shakespeare after that really bad haircut? (PORCUPINE WILL).
Everything Else — 1A: King's place (CASTLE); 7A: Goya subject (MAJA); 11A: "Think of it!" ("IMAGINE!"); 18A: "Carefree" star (ASTAIRE); 20A: Ad of a sort (PROMO); 22A: Roustabout, e.g. (LABORER); 25A: Disperse (SCATTER); 26A: Shorter mo. (SEP.); 27A: Outdo (TOP); 28A: Yale students (ELIS); 30A: Pressure preceder (ACU-); 40A: Solidarity guy (LECH); 41A: Okinawan port (NAHA); 42A: Burly Burl (IVES); 43A: Nabokov novel (ADA); 44A: Do a mining job (SMELT); 47A: D.C. fundraiser (PAC); 48A: Strap (REIN); 49A: Whirled (SPUN); 56A: Arabia's Gulf of ___ (OMAN); 57A: Injured (HURT); 58A: Criticizes, slangily (RAPS); 59A: Questionnaire answers (YESES); 60A: Roast holder (POT); 61A: Ex-Laker outlined on the NBA logo (WEST); 62A: Window feature (SILL); 63A: What he is (MALE); 71A: Like Cheerios (OATY); 72A: Competes (VIES); 73A: Nurse Jackie portrayer (EDIE); 74A: Make the effort (TRY); 76A: Deep sleep (SOPOR); 79A: VMI program (ROTC); 80A: It rests on the violin (CHIN); 81A: Citi Field replaced it (SHEA); 87A: Red inside (RARE); 88A: 1985 U.S. Open winner Mandlikova (HANA); 89A: Joke (RIB); 90A: "Toy Story 3" voice (HANKS); 91A: "___ your dime" (IT'S); 92A: D.A. in "The Dark Knight" who becomes Two-Face, Harvey ___ (DENT); 93A: Come (from) (HAIL); 95A: Raced (SPED); 103A: St. crosser (AVE.); 104A: Wood strip (LATH); 105A: ___ Paulo (SÃO); 106A: Dead battery ... who ya gonna call? (AAA); 108A: In party mode (FESTIVE); 117A: Shunned (AVOIDED); 118A: Nosy one (SNOOP); 119A: "___ be seen again" (NEVER TO); 120A: Signs you unfurl (BANNERS); 121A: Decreases (EBBS); 122A: Do an usher's job (RESEAT); 1D: Gag answer to "Why are birds so noisy"? (CAWS); 2D: So far (AS YET); 3D: Infection type (STAPH); 4D: Make lace (TAT); 5D: English ___ (LIT); 6D: Provocative, in a way (EROTIC); 7D: Speed abbr. (MPH); 8D: Everyday verb (ARE); 9D: Mr. Pulitzer (JOSEPH); 10D: Flyer's first name (AMELIA); 11D: They, in Paris (ILS); 12D: 1990s dance craze (MACARENA); 13D: Early calculator (ABACUS); 14D: Rose (GOT UP); 15D: NYC subway (IRT); 16D: Born (NÉE); 17D: Speak out of turn, e.g. (ERR); 19D: Tennyson's Arden (ENOCH); 21D: Connected to the ear (OTIC); 24D: Toll rd. (TPK.); 29D: They schuss to be happy (SKIERS); 32D: Actress Page of "Juno" (ELLEN); 33D: D.C. PBS station that produces Jim Lehrer's "NewsHour" (WETA); 34D: Pass (a law) (ENACT); 35D: Pool hall device (RACK); 36D: "Stop the World - I Want To Get Off" girl (EVIE); 37D: Half a 1960s foursome (PAPAS); 38D: Draw out (EDUCE); 39D: Admiral and general, for example (RANKS); 44D: Buy things (SHOP); 45D: Staff notes (MEMOS); 46D: Muse with a lyre (ERATO); 47D: Hairlines? (PARTS); 48D: E-mail button (REPLY); 49D: Fine (SHEER); 51D: Major U.S. farm export (WHEAT); 52D: Bold, saucy girl (HUSSY); 53D: Neighbor of SoHo (TRIBECA); 54D: Corridors (HALLS); 55D: "Generation of Vipers" author Philip (WYLIE); 61D: Pooped (WEARY); 62D: Bash, biblically (SMITE); 63D: Battlefield shout (MEDIC); 64D: Quick as ___ (A WINK); 66D: Bond before Dalton (MOORE); 67D: City in central Portugal (EVORA); 68D: Drew Barrymore went through it at 13 (REHAB); 69D: Historical Allen (ETHAN); 70D: Rubbish (DRECK); 75D: Tibetans own them (YAKS); 76D: Font flourish (SERIF); 77D: Egg-shaped (OVATE); 78D: Intrinsically (PER SE); 79D: Car for the duration (RENTAL); 80D: Icy sensation (CHILL); 81D: Hue (SHADE); 83D: Sometime or another (WHENEVER); 84D: Loiter, nowadays (HANG); 85D: Legal document (WRIT); 86D: Kid's sliding board cry (WHEE); 92D: Cause to disagree (DIVIDE); 93D: ___ out of the park (HIT ONE); 94D: Pulsating (ATHROB); 95D: Lover boy (SWAIN); 96D: One initiating a call (PHONER); 98D: "Amo, amas" class (LATIN); 99D: Cat resting places (LAPS); 100D: Medium ability? (ESP); 101D: The Congo, previously (ZAIRE); 102D: Conference site of 1945 (YALTA); 107D: Oodles (A LOT); 108D: Terrif (FAB); 109D: Sister of Zsa Zsa (EVA); 110D: Part of the Holy Trinity (SON); 111D: Redundancy removers: abbr. (EDS.); 113D: It has corn all over it (COB); 114D: Word with lock or mock (UPS); 115D: The day before (EVE); 116D: "Scream" director Craven (WES).

S U N D A Y   September 26, 2010
Damien Peterson (syndicated)

Theme: "Mal de Mer" — Theme answers are familiar phrase with the letter string MER added to them, creating new wacky phrases clued "?"-style.

[Note: This is the syndicated L.A. Times puzzle. It does not appear in the actual newspaper, but is available for free at cruciverb.com.]

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Response to "What's a six-letter answer for 'Silent performer'?"? (MUMMER'S THE WORD).
  • 50A: Seaside vacation disappointment? (BEACH BUMMER).
  • 60A: Prison performer? (SLAMMER DANCER).
  • 75A: Team in an agricultural all-star game? (THE FARMER SIDE).
  • 84A: Station that exclusively plays rapper MC's hits? (HAMMER RADIO).
  • 118A: Like steak cooked by an enchanting chef? (CHARMER BROILED).
  • 32D: Sugary complaint? (CANDIED YAMMER).
  • 34D: More cordial old-timer? (WARMER VETERAN).
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 52A: Sub in a tub (OLEO).
  • 55A: Being, to Augustus (ESSE).
  • 72A: Palindromic "before" (ERE).
  • 79A: Rhein tributary (AARE).
  • 101A: Flightless bird, nowadays? (SST).
  • 109A: Repentant one (RUER).
  • 15D: River inlets (RIAS).
  • 74D: Grape soda brand (NEHI).
  • 76D: P-like letter (RHO).
  • 85D: Dada co-founder (ARP).
  • 119D: Thames islet (AIT).
  • 120D: Sch. in Troy, NY (RPI).
Everything Else — 1A: Railroad foundation (ROADBED); 8A: Short chat? (CONFAB); 14A: Destroys (WRECKS); 20A: Philosopher's term (A PRIORI); 21A: Portugal's second-largest city (OPORTO); 22A: __ reason (WITHIN); 25A: Superficiality (FACADE); 26A: Memo opener (AS PER); 27A: Spots for seaside strolls (PIERS); 28A: Professor's end? (-IAL); 30A: Spot for seaside strolls (SHORE); 31A: Agnus __: Mass prayers (DEIS); 32A: Poolroom array (CUES); 33A: Loud bird (MACAW); 35A: The whole shebang (A TO Z); 36A: Bermuda hrs. (AST); 37A: Five-time NBA championship-winning coach (PAT RILEY); 40A: Shah's land, once (IRAN); 42A: Manhattan cooler? (ICE); 43A: Siskel or Shalit (GENE); 44A: Sleeveless garment (VEST); 45A: Dinghy pair (OARLOCKS); 47A: Mountainous region in Genesis (GILEAD); 53A: Actress Lupino (IDA); 56A: Corn remnants (COBS); 66A: Full of team spirit (RAH-RAH); 68A: Different (ODD); 69A: Picture cards? (ID'S); 70A: Capital of Nord, France (LILLE); 71A: Super Bowl honoree (MVP); 73A: Agitated state (FRENZY); 78A: Roller on a Rolls (TYRE); 82A: Worked (up) (HET); 83A: Pair at the altar (I DOS); 90A: Sci-fi psychic (EMPATH); 92A: Declared (AFFIRMED); 95A: Powerful energy-market gp. (OPEC); 96A: Abbey titles (FRAS.); 97A: Mex. title (SRA.); 98A: Bench-presser's pride (PECS); 99A: "Risky Business" co-star (DEMORNAY); 104A: Idée source (TÊTE); 106A: French wine region (RHONE); 108A: Heads or tails, e.g. (NOUN); 110A: Wrap-up (RECAP); 112A: Program file suffix (EXE); 113A: Relief agcy. founded in the U.K. in 1942 (OXFAM); 115A: NFL ref, in slang (ZEBRA); 116A: Sacred birds (IBISES); 121A: Bistro, informally (NITERY); 122A: Comes up (ARISES); 123A: Unisex (EPICENE); 124A: Yellowstone attraction (GEYSER); 125A: "Candid Camera" bits (PUT-ONS); 126A: Name of earthshaking importance? (RICHTER); 1D: Inn crowd option (RAMADA); 2D: Musical works (OPUSES); 3D: It's exposed many times during the singing of "YMCA" (ARMPIT); 4D: 40% of quarters? (DIMES); 5D: Transvaal settler (BOER); 6D: Make a misstep (ERR); 7D: Argument (DISPUTE); 8D: Like good arguments (COHESIVE); 9D: Phone abbr. (OPER); 10D: "__ the time!" (NOW'S); 11D: Not to (FRO); 12D: Hotel courts (ATRIA); 13D: Amazing, in dialect (BODACIOUS); 14D: Hulk Hogan's '80s-'90s org. (WWF); 16D: __ Sketch (ETCH-A-); 17D: Hardly orderly (CHAOTIC); 18D: "All Summer Long" singer, 2008 (KID ROCK); 19D: Cold signs (SNEEZES); 24D: Theater section (TIER); 29D: '40s-'70s Coliseum team (LA RAMS); 33D: It's not true (MYTH); 37D: Stew veggie (PEA); 38D: Cow country (LEA); 39D: Part of many a mtge. payment (ESC.); 41D: Marlins' div. (NLE); 43D: Trig. prerequisite (GEOM.); 46D: Mus. ensemble (ORCH.); 47D: Become lenient, as on crime (GO SOFT); 48D: Offer to a dishwasher (I'LL DRY); 49D: Boss (LEADER); 50D: Counterfeit (BAD); 51D: Kentucky college or its city (BEREA); 54D: Operations mgrs. (DRS.); 57D: Food company named for two states (ORE-IDA); 58D: 1956 star of Vadim's "And God Created Woman" (BARDOT); 59D: "Yikes!" ("SHEESH!"); 61D: "Les __" (MIZ); 62D: Modify (ALTER); 63D: Bethesda-based research org. (NIH); 64D: Largest OH airport (CLE); 65D: Santa staffer (ELF); 67D: Car loan abbr. (APR); 71D: M.'s partner (MME.); 77D: Makes a drink last (SIPS); 80D: "Cocoon" Oscar winner (AMECHE); 81D: Fenway souvenir (RED SOX CAP); 86D: Used taxis (RODE); 87D: Big klutz (APE); 88D: JFK, but not LAX (DEM); 89D: Case-breaking words (I CONFESS); 91D: When moms are honored (MAY); 92D: Guitar's second-lowest (A STRING); 93D: Hotel soap, say (FREEBIE); 94D: Easy Street's metropolis? (FAT CITY); 96D: Stop in photography? (F NUMBER); 100D: Engine sound (ROAR); 101D: Lease prohibition (SUBLET); 102D: Unruffled (SERENE); 103D: Wall Street worker (TRADER); 105D: Facilitates (EASES); 107D: India's prime minister before Shastri (NEHRU); 109D: Wealthy, in Weimar (REICH); 111D: Fille's father (PÈRE); 113D: Roughly (OR SO); 114D: Marvel Comics heroes (X-MEN); 115D: Suffix with Paleo- (ZOIC); 117D: Half of the UAR (SYR.).


S A T U R D A Y   September 25, 2010
Barry C. Silk

Theme: None

I solved this puzzle late last night after I got home from book club ("The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake." General consensus: awesome concept, mediocre execution, unsatisfying ending. I actually liked it more than everybody else.) I really didn't have any trouble with the puzzle at all until I got the southwest corner where I just couldn't figure out what the heck was going on. Doesn't help that I entered SOLAR FLAIR before the spelling part of my brain kicked in. Solar flair! Astronomy based "Project Runway"? I don't know. It made me laugh pretty hard when I discovered my mistake. I'd like to say that the all the trouble was caused by the ugly SNEERY (63A: Derisive), but that's just not the case. The rest of that corner is actually really lovely so, in my mind, SNEERY paid off. The real problem is that I think of JAGS as more of "sprees" than 50D: Flings and don't remember ever hearing of 51D: Novelist EVAN Hunter. Rounding out the problems I had in that corner, GARNET is a 61A: Abrasive mineral? Who knew? (Besides Barry, I mean.) And thinking about the fact that 50A: Sterno, for one is a JELLY is really ooking me out for some reason. (Is "ooking" a word? Maybe not, but it gets the point across, doesn't it?)

As I was solving the puzzle I was thinking "Ooh, I wanna talk about this," and "Ooh, I wanna talk about that," so let's get right to it since it's late and I know you all are probably sitting there refreshing your browser every ten seconds because you just can't wait to see what I have to say.

  • 9A: Support base (PLINTH). Needed plenty of crosses to get this awesome word.
  • 18A: Screwed up (BLEW IT). For some reason I couldn't read the clue as a verb phrase, I was stuck on thinking it was an adjective.
  • 37A: Four-time NBA MVP (WILT CHAMBERLAIN). What a treat to see a grid-spanning basketball player in Barry's grid! He's more of a baseball guy, so I was surprised. Also, got it with only the T in place which, obviously, was a big help in keeping my solving going really smoothly.
  • 42A: Cox who played Drew in "Deliverance" (RONNY). No idea. RONNY Cox sounds like a back-up singer from the Motown era.
  • 53A: Gee (THOU). Very tricky! (Too tricky?) One gee (G) = one grand = one thousand dollars = a THOU.
  • 59A: Party animal? (ELEPHANT). That would be the Republican party.
  • 1D: Winston Groom hero (GUMP). I totally forgot that "Forrest Gump" the movie was based on a book. And I'm pretty sure I never knew the author's name.
  • 2D: Newton or curie (UNIT). These are units of … I don't know. Something science-y.
  • 3D: La __: ocean phenomenon (NIÑA). I would kind of like to know the difference between El Niño and La NIÑA. But not enough to look it up right now.
  • 8D: Residential street warning (SPEED BUMPS AHEAD). One of the topics of conversation at the book club last night was the unbelievable fight the neighborhood has been involved in this past year about "traffic calming" measures that about half the neighborhood wanted to put in place and the other half thought was some kind of fascist affront to their very beings. The nastiness that ensured was truly bizarre and discouraging in a faith-in-humanity kind of way.
  • 11D: Summer cooler (ICE TEA). Yeah, yeah, yeah. Needs a D. I know, I know.
  • 21D: Pass on a ketch (SAIL BY). I read this as "Pass on a kVetch" and couldn't figure out what the heck was going on.
  • 23D: Tribal Council prop (TORCH). Is this a reference to "Survivor"? 'Cuz that's where my brain went.
  • 54D: Former UN weapons inspector Blix (HANS). Poor HANS Blix. I don't imagine I'm the only one who can't remember whether he's the guy who said there were WMD's in Iraq, or if he's the guy who went in and said there were not WMD's in Iraq. Kind of a big difference there. I think if I were the latter, I'd want to make sure people remembered me for the right thing!
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 30A: Mass garb (ALBS).
  • 40A: White, in Waikiki (KEA).
  • 43A: Old pol. units (SSR'S).
  • 26D: Native New Yorkers (ERIES).
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Everything Else — 1A: Places for pieces (GUN RACKS); 15A: Worker's advocate (UNION REP); 16A: Foe of Mark Antony (CICERO); 17A: Imagination (MIND'S EYE); 19A: NEA supporters (PTA'S); 20A: Third of seven: Abbr. (TUES.); 22A: Quantum mechanics subjects (ATOMS); 23A: "Bojangles" Robinson, for one (TAP DANCER); 25A: El Cid player, 1961 (HESTON); 29A: Life lines? (BIO); 33A: Like an excited World Series crowd (AROAR); 34A: Sign of life (PULSE); 36A: Baseball stat (ERA); 41A: Up (HAPPY); 45A: Substitutes for forgotten words (LAS); 46A: Releases (LETS GO); 47A: It may be essential (FATTY ACID); 52A: Vengeful Quaker of fiction (AHAB); 57A: Profits (AVAILS); 62A: Compact (ALLIANCE); 64A: Can't abide (DESPISES); 4D: Angler's supply (RODS); 5D: Q&A part: Abbr. (ANS.); 6D: Greek islander (CRETAN); 7D: Excite (KEY UP); 9D: Pollutant found in NCR paper (PCB); 10D: Color similar to pale plum (LILAC); 12D: Where to get a muffuletta sandwich (NEW ORLEANS); 13D: Garnish (TRIM); 14D: Red __: candy (HOTS); 24D: Narrow margin (NOSE); 25D: Peddles (HAWKS); 27D: Phenomenon that emits X-rays (SOLAR FLARE); 28D: Work with a shuttle (TAT); 31D: Fetch (BRING); 32D: Maker of eneloop rechargeable batteries (SANYO); 34D: Melonlike fruit (PAPAYA); 35D: Didn't get 100, say (ERRED); 38D: Stop order (HALT); 39D: Large amount (LOT); 44D: Hospital solution (SALINE); 46D: Abuses freedom of the press, perhaps (LIBELS); 48D: Texas city named for a president (TYLER); 49D: Valencia street (CALLE); 53D: Golden Triangle native (THAI); 55D: Formerly (ONCE); 56D: Versatile wheels (UTES); 58D: Dump (STY); 60D: Spot (PIP).


F R I D A Y   September 24, 2010
Kelsey Blakley

Theme: Table Etiquette — Theme answers are two-word phrases, the second word of which can describe a type of knife. The phrase itself is a spoonerism.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Choose deli platter items? (PICK CHEESE). [chick peas]
  • 25A: Beef marinated in Jim's bourbon? (BEAM STEAK). [steam bake]
  • 34A: Rooster's spread? (COCK'S BUTTER). [box cutter]
  • 49A: "Casablanca" nightclub income? (RICK BREAD). [brick red]
  • 55A: Ironically, the 58-Acrosses in this puzzle end in types of them (KNIVES).
  • 58A: What each of the other four longest answers in this puzzle is (SPOONERISM).
Before we get started, I just want to give a warm welcome to Stephen W. Keys, the blog's 200th follower! Yee-haw! Stephen, I wish I had some kind of prize to send you but … I don't. You'll have to settle for a public declaration of my gratitude. And hey, while I'm at it, thanks to all of you for sticking around and making this blog a fun place to talk about puzzles. I appreciate all of you! Speaking of puzzles ….

We've got ourselves a clever (and complicated!) theme today. Sometimes the theme can be a real help in solving a puzzle, but I didn't find that to be true today. Wait that's not completely true. I could decipher one of the words in the theme phrase based on the clue, so I guess that's something. Actually, more than something. I totally take back what I said about the theme not helping. My brain could probably have come up with the complete phrase but I was sailing through with the crosses so didn't really need to stop and think about it. I guess I just have one question though: Cheese knife? I'm sure it's a thing, but it's not something you'll find in my low-class kitchen. In fact, the cheese we use most often here at the PuzzleHouse already comes in slices.

  • 1A: Elián Gonzalez's home (CUBA). I wonder how that kid's doing these days. I hope he's not scarred for life.
  • 19A: Jabber? (TINE). Tricky clue. Not "jabber" as in Mr. T's "jibber-jabber" but literally the act of jabbing something.
  • 30A: Shooting gadget (SYRINGE). I was trying to think of some sort of firearm attachment. And since I know absolutely nothing about firearms I wasn't having any luck.
  • 31A: Oklahoma tribe (KIOWA). This tribe isn't nearly as popular in CrossWorld as the ERIE, CREE, OTO, OTOE, and UTE, but it is one you'll want to remember.
  • 53A: Shih __ (TZU). My kids love saying this out loud. They really think they're getting away with something!
  • 54A: Light-headed flier? (MOTH). I get it — a flier that's headed toward the light. Clever!
  • 1D: "In Cold Blood" author (CAPOTE). I finallyread this book a couple years ago after having it on my list for a loooong time. It's terrifying.
  • 6D: It may be blonde or brown (ALE). Yep, firearms and ale. Possibly the two things I know the least about.
  • 7D: Volleyball star Gabrielle (REECE). She was in the puzzle not too long ago. Did you remember her?
  • 37D: Albania's capital (TIRANE). This particular capital doesn't appear in the puzzle very often. In fact, it's only been in the LA Times puzzle once before and that was in 2003. So don't feel bad if you had to use crosses to get it (like I did).
  • 39D: Home of Carefree Highway (ARIZONA). What an awesome name for a road! I know there's a town in Arizona called Carefree and, come to think of it, that's an awesome name for a town too! Do you think everybody who lives there is totally happy?
  • 42D: Chip maker (IBM). Couldn't get Intel out of my brain long enough to come up with anything else. I hate it when a wrong answer is stuck there preventing me from coming up with the right one.
  • 43D: Detroit suburb __ Pointe (GROSSE). Love the movie "Grosse Pointe Blank." Here's the thing about John Cusack. It's all about his delivery. He says things that really aren't all that funny on their face, but the way he says them makes them hilarious. Love that guy.
Crosswordese 101 Round-Up:
  • 8D: Ottoman lords (PASHAS).
  • 10D: Baseball's Master Melvin (OTT).
  • 47D: Discharges (EGESTS).
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Everything Else — 5A: Legendary brothers in law (EARPS); 10A: Hogwarts messengers (OWLS); 14A: What the connected have (AN IN); 15A: Sole projection (CLEAT); 16A: Unconvincing (THIN); 20A: Opera set on Cyprus (OTELLO); 21A: Spiced 23-Across (CHAI); 23A: See 21-Across (TEA); 24A: Oater camp sight (TEPEE); 27A: Both Begleys (EDS); 28A: Chrysler division (RAM); 33A: Dutch physics Nobelist Simon van der __ (MEER); 38A: Shelled out (PAID); 40A: Rival of 2-Down (USAIR); 41A: Bring charges against (ARRAIGN); 45A: Stumble (ERR); 46A: Sagittarian's mo., probably (DEC.); 51A: Friend of Jesús (AMIGO); 56A: Pack member (WOLF); 60A: Subj. with skeletons in the closet?: Abbr. (ANAT.); 61A: Balm (SALVE); 62A: Within: Pref. (ENTO-); 63A: Place to keep stock? (YARD); 64A: Grammy winner Gormé (EYDIE); 65A: Mtg. (SESS.); 2D: Red Carpet Club flier (UNITED); 3D: Arm & Hammer logo feature (BICEPS); 4D: __ socks (ANKLE); 5D: Pilot's "E" (ECHO); 9D: Hot and heavy (STEAMY); 11D: Bleach (WHITENER); 12D: Roots (LINEAGE); 13D: British : trainer :: American : __ (SNEAKER); 18D: Ayatollah, e.g. (CLERIC); 22D: Camp David Accords signer: Abbr. (ISR.); 25D: Upscale imports (BMW'S); 26D: Source of ticking (TIMER); 29D: Verbal thumbs-up (A-OK); 31D: Maker of the FunSaver disposable camera (KODAK); 32D: __ Dhabi (ABU); 34D: Advertising notice (CIRCULAR); 35D: Recycled (USED); 36D: What many rural roads lack (TAR); 38D: Not completely (PARTWAY); 44D: Take-home (NET PAY); 46D: Like some wisdom (DIVINE); 48D: Carl Sagan PBS series (COSMOS); 50D: Get __ of: locate (A HOLD); 52D: Entangles (MIRES); 55D: Bouncing joint? (KNEE); 57D: Wire svc. involved in many arrangements (FTD); 59D: Egg opening (OVI-).


T H U R S D A Y   September 23, 2010
John Pounders

Theme: Yeah, yeah, yeah — Theme answers are clued using the same phrase with different meanings.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: "Oh, yeah?" ("SURE ABOUT THAT?").
  • 36A: "Oh, yeah!" ("I LIKE IT LIKE THAT!").
  • 53A: "Oh, yeah ..." ("I REMEMBER THAT …").

I'm a fan of this type of theme, where the clues for theme answers are the same. Typically, the clue will simply be one word, but in this case, it's actually a phrase with the added twist of punctuation and inflection, which I think makes this theme great. Two thumbs up!

There were a couple sticky places in this grid, the first of which was, appropriately, 16A: Sticky resin used in paint (ALKYD). I just have trouble with the science-y stuff. I assume that I'll pick it up eventually if I solve enough puzzles. The clue for SEINE — 34A: Angler's accessory — definitely indicates we're in a late-week puzzle. I always forget that SEINE doesn't always refer to the French river, but sometimes to a, um, fishing … accessory. As I wrote that sentence it occurred to me that I don't actually know what a SEINE is! A teeny tiny voice in the back of my brain is saying "net" so I'm gonna go with that. A SEINE is a fisher's net. (I'm sure you'll let me know if I'm wrong about that!)

Then there's BELAY, which I have only heard in relation to climbing and didn't realize was used in the nautical world as well (32D: Secure, as a ship's line). BIHARI, on the other hand, is a word I don't ever remember hearing. The clue — 46D: Native of NE India — reminded me of when I had lunch with Vega a couple weeks ago. She asked if I liked South Indian food. And she asked it like I knew the difference between South Indian and North Indian food. (I'm all: "Sure!")

  • 5A: It may involve splashing (BATH). For some reason this clue made me laugh.
  • 18A: Love god (EROS). I always have to think for a minute to remember which god is EROS and which one is ARES. EROS = EROtic = love. That's how I remember it.
  • 19A: "Thelma and Louise" car (T-BIRD). Lots of "Thelma and Louise" this week.
  • 44A: Journey (VOYAGE).

  • 46A: Merit badge org. (BSA). I actually spent some time sewing badges on a Girl Scout sash last night.
  • 67A: Word with cheap or bike (DIRT). I am really really bad at figuring out this type of clue. I guess my brain just doesn't work that way. Once I get it (through crosses) I always think "Oh! That's clever!" but there's no way I could come up with it on my own.
  • 6D: Polis leader? (ACRO-). Wanted METRO-, which obviously didn't fit.
  • 11D: People-wary, as a horse (SKITTISH). Great word.
  • 59D: Source of lean meat (EMU). Have any of you tried it? I'm guessing it tastes like chicken.
Crosswordese 101: Here are the words that'll let you know the answer you want is OSIER: willow, twig, basketry, and wickerwork. (Note today's 51A: Willow tree twig. See?) It also might be helpful to remember that OSIER is a variety of dogwood.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 33A: "Carnival of Harlequin" surrealist (MIRÓ).
  • 42A: Sharp ridge (ARETE).
  • 64A: Mars counterpart (ARES).
  • 13D: Byrnes of "77 Sunset Strip" (EDD).
  • 57D: Barely manages, with "out" (EKES).
  • 58D: Muslim's duty (HAJ).
[P.S. This blog has 199 followers! Will we get to 200 today? The suspense is killing me!]

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Everything Else — 1A: A teaspoon, maybe (DOSE); 9A: Old hat (PASSE); 14A: Quechua speaker (INCA); 15A: Return from the Alps? (ECHO); 17A: Hot quaff (GROG); 23A: __ manual (USER'S); 24A: Canadian sentence enders? (EHS); 25A: Start using (TAP); 28A: High degree (PHD); 29A: Prone (LIABLE); 35A: Silas Marner, e.g. (MISER); 41A: Garden bulb (TULIP); 43A: Repose (CALM); 49A: Quarterback's cry (HUT); 50A: Time in a pool (DIP); 58A: Virile one (HE-MAN); 60A: Cranny's partner (NOOK); 61A: First name in Indian music (RAVI); 62A: Church chorus (AMENS); 63A: Tackle box item (LURE); 65A: Opinion giver (JUDGE); 66A: Cravings (YENS); 1D: Unearths (DIGS UP); 2D: Assault (ONRUSH); 3D: Homered, say (SCORED); 4D: Thirsty (EAGER); 5D: Overseas network, with "the" (BEEB); 7D: Commandment pronoun (THOU); 8D: Hiker's stopover (HOSTEL); 9D: Rustic ways (PATHS); 10D: Jessica of "Sin City" (ALBA); 12D: Turk. neighbor (SYR.); 21D: Dreaming, perhaps (ASLEEP); 22D: Not just a (THE); 26D: Space (AREA); 27D: Sea side (PORT); 30D: 1969 Super Bowl (III); 31D: Colony dweller (ANT); 33D: Tick cousin (MITE); 34D: Whole alternative (SKIM); 35D: Falling star (METEOR); 36D: Allergic reaction (ITCH); 37D: Place to see grass skirts (LUAU); 38D: Poorly planned (ILL-TIMED); 39D: Bank offering, for short (IRA); 40D: Powder container (KEG); 44D: Animation (VIM); 45D: For all to see (OPENLY); 47D: Pitcher known as "Tom Terrific" (SEAVER); 48D: Escape __ (ARTIST); 50D: Crowded (DENSE); 52D: Valuable violin (STRAD); 54D: "You __?" (RANG); 55D: Pout (MOUE); 56D: Conceived, as an idea (BORN).


W E D N E S D A Y   September 22, 2010
James Sajdak

Theme: Har-dee-har-har — Theme answers are props traditionally used in slapstick comedy routines.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *Coconut dessert (CUSTARD PIE).
  • 23A: *Facetious name for a fund-raising circuit entrée (RUBBER CHICKEN).
  • 46A: *Mixer holder (SELTZER BOTTLE).
  • 57A: *Yellow slipper? (BANANA PEEL).
  • 36A: Where it's laughable to see the answers to starred clues (SLAPSTICK COMEDY).
I have to admit, I was a little distracted while I was solving this puzzle. I found out that I made a stupid mistake in my job interview and even though I'm likely to get an offer, it probably won't be at the salary I was hoping for. Oh well. Live and learn. In any case, it will be more than I'm making now (which is zero) so if I want to look at the bright side, there definitely is one to look at.

Although there isn't anything super exciting about this theme, it did bring to mind funny scenes of physical comedy that made me chuckle. Whenever I think about this kind of comedy I remember seeing Marlo Thomas on the Letterman show many years ago demonstrating a spit-take (which, of course, her dad was famous for). I've never been able to find the clip though. It was hilarious. This is about the closest thing I could find:

I had a little trouble up in the northeast corner because I misspelled ORECK as "Orick" (11D: Vacuum shown lifting a bowling ball in TV ads). With that I and the two Ns in place, I decided the 19A: State bordering eight others: Abbr. must be MINNesota. Which is a terrible, terrible answer for many reasons including the fact that it's not true. (Of course, the correct answer is TENNessee.)

  • 5A: Fall, as home prices (SLUMP). I usually think of SLUMP as a noun ("The housing market is in a slump") but I guess this works too.
  • 40A: Old curse word (POX). Okay, I know I say this all the time but seriously: This is an awesome word and we should all use it as often as possible. "A POX on both your houses!"
  • 53A: TV channels 2 to 13 (VHF). I can never remember the difference between UHF and VHF.
  • 56A: Lisa's title (MONA). Wait, what? MONA is a title? Hold on …. Sure enough! "Mona" is a "polite form of address" that comes from "madonna" which comes from the Italian "ma donna" ("my lady"). The things you learn!
  • 3D: "Don't worry about it!" ("JUST RELAX!").
  • 8D: Printemps month (MAI). French!
  • 10D: Like smart phones, e.g. (HI-TECH). PuzzleHusband recently purchased a Droid phone. It's a very very smart phone. As it happens, way too smart for PuzzleHusband.
  • 24D: Sch. near the Rio Grande (UTEP). University of Texas El Paso. Do you think this should go in CW101 someday? I never think of it as crosswordese because I lived near El Paso for several years. But I would imagine for people in the rest of the country it's not a real big-name college.
  • 26D: '50s Red Scare gp. (HUAC). House Un-American Activities Committee.
  • 32D: Assure victory in, slangily (ICE). I'm pretty sure I've never heard this particular usage.
  • 35D: Bridge assents (AYES). This clue refers to the bridge on a ship, not the card game or whatever other kind of bridge you might have been thinking about.
  • 39D: Keyboardist Saunders who collaborated with Jerry Garcia (MERL). Wow. Never heard of this guy! Got him totally through crosses.
Crosswordese 101: An AIT is exactly what today's clue says it is — a 4D: River isle. Typical clues for AIT include "Small island," "River islet," "Spot in a river," and "Island in the Thames."

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 31A: Kuwaiti currency (DINAR).
  • 42A: Canal that Sal worked on, in song (ERIE).
  • 62A: Janis's comics mate (ARLO).
  • 38D: Container allowance (TARE).
  • 48D: Hawaii's Pineapple Island (LANAI).
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Everything Else — 1A: Cabo locale (BAJA); 10A: Havana howdy (HOLA); 14A: Distant start? (EQUI-); 15A: Insured patient's med cost (COPAY); 16A: Mideast nation (IRAN); 20A: Krazy of comics (KAT); 21A: Backsliding event? (LUGE); 22A: Tourist attraction (MECCA); 27A: Some campus sisters (THETAS); 29A: Big repair bill reaction (OUCH); 30A: "Hee Haw" prop (BALE); 33A: Fairy tale legume (PEA); 41A: Overhangs (EAVES); 43A: Stud farm stud (SIRE); 44A: Groundbreakers (FIRSTS); 51A: Mindful (AWARE); 52A: Rankles (IRKS); 60A: "Agreed!" ("OKAY!"); 61A: Put an __: stop (END TO); 63A: Sale caution (AS IS); 64A: County northeast of London (ESSEX); 65A: Oceanic flora (KELP); 1D: Eponymous German brewer Heinrich (BECK); 2D: Caribbean color (AQUA); 5D: Surgical coverage? (SCRUBS); 6D: Raccoon ___, "The Honeymooners" fraternal group (LODGE); 7D: Like some echelons (UPPER); 9D: Joe-__ weed: herbal remedy (PYE); 12D: Tilting pole (LANCE); 13D: 1997-2006 UN leader (ANNAN); 18D: Goya's "Duchess of __" (ALBA); 22D: Prefix with scope (MICRO-); 25D: Bops (CONKS); 27D: Kitchen meas. (TBSP.); 28D: Saintly circle (HALO); 31D: One going down (DIVER); 33D: Gut it out (PERSEVERE); 34D: Cut out, say (EDIT); 37D: Take by force (SEIZE); 43D: Range rovers? (STRAYS); 44D: Loc. with billions in bullion (FT. KNOX); 45D: "__ girl!" (IT'S A); 46D: Island where Robert Louis Stevenson died (SAMOA); 47D: Furry Endor inhabitants (EWOKS); 49D: Pickles (BINDS); 50D: Speak formally (ORATE); 54D: War, to Sherman (HELL); 55D: Hardly a big ticket-seller (FLOP); 57D: Sewing circle (BEE); 58D: T or F, on tests (ANS.); 59D: Karachi's country: Abbr. (PAK.).


T U E S D A Y   September 21, 2010
Robert A. Doll

Theme: I've got this property in Arizona I'd like to sell you …. — Theme answers start with words that can come after the word "beach" in a familiar phrase.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Top banana (HEAD HONCHO).
  • 23A: Unstable situation, metaphorically (HOUSE OF CARDS).
  • 37A: Huge mess (BALL OF CONFUSION).
  • 45A: Gregarious fun lovers (PARTY ANIMALS).
  • 58A: Valuable shore property, and a hint to what the first words of 17-, 23-, 37- and 45-Across have in common (BEACH FRONT).
Not a lot to say about this one. The theme is fine, the fill is decent, and it's just about the perfect difficulty level for Tuesday. I'm off to a job interview this morning, so I'll tell you a few things that jumped out at me and then I'll leave it to y'all to talk it out in the comments.

  • 6A: Zip (ZERO). I tried NADA first.
  • 30A: Louise's gal pal (THELMA). This clue makes it sound like they're just a couple of everyday gals going out to the mall or something.
  • 40A: "Danny and the Dinosaur" author Hoff (SYD). This clue for SYD is used more often in late-week puzzles. On Mondays and Tuesdays, we're usually treated to SYD Barrett.
  • 43A: Blood fluids (SERA). Ew.
  • 52A: Assumed name (ALIAS). I never got into this show. (Yes, I know the clue doesn't refer to the show, but that's where my brain took me.) I used to read television show recaps on a site called Mighty Big TV (now Television Without Pity) and the write-up for Alias's pilot episode made it sound so dumb that I couldn't really ever watch it again. ("She's a CIA agent! She's a college student! She's a CIA agent!")
  • 63A: Sacher treat (TORTE). I've Ne-ever heard of this before, but it's kind of interesting.
  • 10D: Kid's make-believe phone (TIN CAN). Last time I saw a tin can used as a phone was just the other day when Jon Stewart used one as a prop in the bit where he announced his Rally to Restore Sanity. (I'm so there.)
  • 18D: Its flagship sch. is in Stillwater, west of Tulsa (OSU). Oklahoma State University. Their wrestling team holds the record for most national championships. But it's only a matter of time ….
  • 23D: Oates's musical partner (HALL).

  • 27D: One-horse carriage (SHAY). Have I ever mentioned how much I love the Nickelodeon kids' show "iCarly"? I have? Well, Carly's last name on that show is SHAY.
  • 32D: Performers' union: Abbr. (AFTRA). American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
  • 35D: Letter after theta (IOTA). Someday I'm going to memorize the Greek alphabet. And the Jewish months. And the European rivers.
  • 1D: "High Hopes" lyricist Sammy (CAHN). A little surprised to see both Sammy CAHN and 38D: "Misery" actor James CAAN in the same grid.
  • 49D: "Miracle on 34th Street" setting (MACY'S). Was just there today! I don't know if their customer service is getting better or if my standards are just getting lower. I used to hate going in there, but the last few times it hasn't been that bad. At least it's been a while since I got trapped in a fitting room because someone shoved two big rolling racks of clothes in front of the door and I had to scream until another customer helped me get out. I guess it's all uphill from there.
Crosswordese 101: The 19A: Depilatory brand NAIR is very popular in CrossWorld. It's generally clued (like today) straightforwardly as a popular (or top-selling) depilatory (or hair removal) brand (or product or option). It is also likely to be clued as an alternative, competitor, or rival of the other popular hair removal product, NEET. Occasionally, the clue for NEET will indicate "bygone" or "once" because the product is now called VEET, which for some reason never shows up in puzzles.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 15A: Country on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula (OMAN).
  • 26A: Workplace inspection org. (OSHA).
  • 2D: Top draft status (ONE-A).
  • 9D: John __ Lennon (ONO).
  • 50D: Rhine whine? (ACH).
  • 56D: Editor's "leave it in" (STET).
  • 60D: Future fish (ROE).
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Everything Else — 1A: Briquettes (COALS); 10A: Country music pioneer Ernest (TUBB); 14A: "As a result ..." ("AND SO …"); 16A: Spot in the ocean (ISLE); 20A: '60s-'70s war site, briefly (NAM); 21A: "Now it makes sense!" ("I SEE!"); 22A: Cake finish (ICING); 29A: Comportment (MIEN); 33A: Buzzing swarmers (BEES); 34A: Performed (DID); 41A: Court postponement (STAY); 42A: Ancient Greek military power (SPARTA); 44A: Veggies studied by Mendel (PEAS); 53A: Defensive spray (MACE); 54A: Marx's "__ Kapital" (DAS); 57A: Thin curl of smoke (WISP); 61A: Third man (ABEL); 62A: High-strung (EDGY); 64A: Goodyear product (TIRE); 65A: Member's obligation (DUES); 66A: What matzo lacks (YEAST); 3D: Father of 61-Across (ADAM); 4D: '60s "trip" drug (LSD); 5D: Early gas company based in Cleveland (SOHIO); 6D: Districts (ZONES); 7D: Roast host (EMCEE); 8D: Bleachers cry (RAH); 11D: Carrier that added "ways" to its name in 1997 (USAIR); 12D: Duck hunter's cover (BLIND); 13D: Cold-water hazards (BERGS); 22D: Freezes over (ICES UP); 24D: Divine sign (OMEN); 25D: Feudal domains (FIEFS); 26D: Gambling parlors, briefly (OTB'S); 28D: Had in one's hands (HELD); 31D: Strolls (along) (MOSEYS); 33D: Tarzan's son (BOY); 34D: Awful (DIRE); 36D: Genetic info carriers (DNA'S); 39D: Easy targets (SAPS); 43D: Swingline fastener (STAPLE); 45D: Touch, cat-style (PAW AT); 46D: Accused's excuse (ALIBI); 47D: Choir platform (RISER); 48D: Likeness (IMAGE); 51D: Sandy Koufax or CC Sabathia (LEFTY); 54D: The first Mrs. Copperfield (DORA); 55D: Insects on farms (ANTS); 58D: B&B part (BED); 59D: College URL ending (EDU).